Scan Tool Dreams

Diagnostics has changed a lot since the earliest days of OBD II, mostly because there are a lot more codes and other information available from the vehicle’s on-board controllers.

But, with the exception of additional modes (bi-directional control, VIN info, and permanent code records), the basic structure of OBD II remains relatively unchanged since the first 7 Modes were introduced in 1996. Still, scan tools are MUCH more powerful today than most of us imagined back then, and there’s potential for even more capability.

Just as significant is the potential unlocked by the different ways people have found to use the tool. For instance, Mode $06 was originally intended as a production line tool to verify/document a vehicle’s compliance with emissions regulations. The OEM engineers were surprised to learn that people in the field (shop) were using it to verify repairs. Only a very few of them (thanks Paul) embraced the idea right away and began providing service information to help more techs learn how to use it. Today Mode $06 one of the most important capabilities of a professional scan tool.

This is an example of the user telling the manufacturer what they want, something Steve Jobs knew how to read and capitalize on. Jobs is gone, but his talent for product innovation can be an example to manufacturers of any product, even one as complex as a scan tool. So pretend for just a moment that you can talk to the people who make cars and scan tools.

What would you like to see in your next scan tool?